CWD confirmed in Houston County farmed deer herd

Publish Date

Saint Paul, Minn - Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been confirmed at a Houston County white-tailed deer farm. A 2 ½-year-old white-tailed doe tested positive for CWD after it died; all farmed cervids that die or are slaughtered must be tested for CWD. The herd has been quarantined and the herd owner is cooperating with the Board of Animal Health’s (Board’s) CWD investigation, which includes evaluating herd records and animal movements for the past five years.

“We’re compiling the last five years of the herd history and movements as required by federal program standards, and we’re working with the USDA to appraise and request federal indemnity for this herd,” said Board Assistant Director, Dr. Linda Glaser. “There are 38 adults and 11 fawns in the herd and we plan to work with the producer to develop a depopulation and testing plan.”

The farm is located within the Board’s designated CWD endemic area* in southeastern Minnesota and the herd enclosure was double-fenced in 2017; before the Board established the endemic area in Houston County in late 2018. In the last five years, this herd has only imported animals from two Minnesota herds and did import the CWD positive animal in 2019 from a Winona County herd which has also been quarantined. The herd has only exported animals to one location in Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently testing hunter harvested wild deer in Houston County as part of the planned CWD surveillance for the fall deer hunting seasons. This surveillance is a critical part of the state’s efforts to reduce the impact of CWD on the state’s wild deer population.

“We typically heighten our efforts to collect samples from wild deer in areas that surround CWD-infected cervid farms,” said Dr. Michelle Carstensen, Wildlife Health Program supervisor. “Even though sampling is voluntary this year, the more hunters submit samples, the better we can understand how CWD is spreading in the area. This new detection is within our CWD management zone and intensifies our need for Houston County deer hunters to submit samples.”

Last fall, three deer tested positive for CWD out of approximately 2,260 deer that were tested within 10 miles of this newly detected CWD-positive farm. Hunters should check the DNR’s CWD webpage for sampling station availability. Sampling result totals from the DNR are available on the CWD sampling page.

CWD is a disease of the deer and elk family caused by prions, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine, and other fluids or tissues. CWD is not known to naturally occur in other animals. The disease is fatal in deer and elk, and there are no known treatments or vaccines. Consuming meat from CWD infected animals is not advised.

*The Board establishes the endemic area boundary 15 miles around all confirmed cases of CWD in the wild. The designation of this area impacts farmed Cervidae herds found within the area. Farmed Cervidae in these herds are restricted from moving to other areas of the state until the producer can demonstrate the herd is maintained in such a way to prevent commingling of farmed and wild Cervidae.